A hotel room in Denver, Colorado. Sanford Thibodaux is sitting in an armchair, his eyes closed, feet propped up, while Myfanwy is typing away on a laptop set up. As The Shadow, Alistair McLean and Christian Fagermo walk in, Myfanwy briefly looks up and flashes a quick smile, while Sanford does not move an inch. As The Shadow pulls up a chair next to Myfanwy, Alistair slaps Sanford over the head, then yanking the chair he has his feet on out from under him before taking a seat on it himself.
The Shadow: So did you get anything back from the lab about these pills yet?
Myfanwy: Yes, and the results are, well, weird.
The Shadow: In which way?
Myfanwy: Well, there were five different kinds, all different colours, too.
Alistair: Which did ye find?
Myfanwy: White, green, blue, red and black.
Alistair: Sae, whit were th’ results then?
Myfanwy: Well, the white ones were sugar pills. Nothing in them, placebo or whatever. Red has a bit of adrenaline in it, so could be a stimulant of some sorts. Green is some weird organic compound that according to a former colleague of mine in Cardiff is used to purge toxins. Nothing over the counter, according to him it seems almost experimental in its combination.
Alistair: Sae somethin' custom gart?
Sanford: Custom what?
Myfanwy: Custom made. It’s possible. But this is not the weirdest one. The blue pill--
Myfanwy looks at him with a shake of her head, rolling her eyes at the Louisianan.
Myfanwy: No, gutter mind. It’s a watered down low level kind of LSD.
Alistair furrows his brow.
Alistair: Yoo're reit, that's odd.
Myfanwy: And the last one is the weirdest one of them all. It’s an amino acid chain that I have never heard of before and I could not find anything on either. There’s no apparent effect or anything, so I had to send it on to my colleague in Cardiff to see, if he can find something in the journals or their network.
The Shadow: Thank you. So basically what we know now is that this someone is taking a very weird cocktail of pills, some of which are not your usual over the counter--
Alistair is looking up from the notes Myfanwy had handed over to him.
Alistair: Ur prescription.
The Shadow: OK, not your usual medication. Sanford, anything on those broken shades you found?
Sanford: Well, I got some fingerprints off them, but that doesn’t really help us either, because they’re not leading anywhere.
Now it is Myfanwy's turn to furrow her brow.
Myfanwy: You - ran them through - something?
Sanford briefly turns towards her.
Sanford: Yep, I have, uh, connections.
The Shadow: So they are not registered?
Sanford: Oh, they are.
The Shadow: So... what’s the problem?
Sanford: They belong to a Vyacheslav Korogin.
The Shadow: Russian.
Myfanwy: Did you get an address?
Sanford: Indeed I did. 620 Central Ave, Newark, New Jersey.
The Shadow: And that would be?
Sanford: Fairmount Cemetery.
Myfanwy: Fairmount what?
Sanford: Fairmount Cemetery. They guy is dead. For 24 years now.
Myfanwy: I don’t understand.
Sanford: Well, neither do I. Yet. But I’m not giving up.
The Shadow: Thank you. So do we have anything else?
Christian: Yes. We tried to tail Ataxia after Evolution and that guy is harder to grasp than an eel that just swam through a trough of butter. So he left Colorado Springs in a limo, but instead of a hotel it went to Fairmount Cemetery.
Sanford: In Newark?
Christian: In Denver.
The Shadow: They have the same name?
Christian: Yes. Could be absolute coincidence, but you never know.
The Shadow: So where did he go from there?
Christian: That’s the thing, he didn’t.
Myfanwy: What do you mean?
Christian: The limo left. Empty. Since then no trace of him.
The Shadow closes his eyes and shakes his head.
The Shadow: Why am I not surprised… Anyways. Let’s try and stay on this, thanks for your efforts so far.
Fades to black.
The picture fades in to the majestic, snow-capped peaks of the Rocky Mountains, from what appears to be a helicopter. On one plateau two small black dots can be seen, which upon approach can be made out as two hooded figures, one holding a staff. As the camera cuts, it is, almost as expected, The Shadow together with Myfanwy, their faces hidden in the twilight of the hoods.
The Shadow: Vertigo, what a fitting name for a PPV taking place in Colorado, isn’t it? The Mile High State.
Ataxia, my feathered friend, how many times did you show up in the rafters, decrying our undying loyalty to CWF? How often did you call it “your” federation, the one that you would defend against anybody who would threaten its existence, its well-being? You were the vigilante guardian angel, looking down at “your” realm, ready to jump in and protect it from everybody. Whenever there would be a rift, you would make sure that any disruptors would know that they had gone too far and that you would avenge whatever injustice they would enact.
He holds up a banner of the CWF and Vertigo.
The Shadow: But what now, Ataxia? Now you have a dilemma, my friend. Because now YOU are the disruptor. YOU are the one that is threatening to tear the very tapestry that is CWF apart and jeopardize its existence as we know it. Are you going to step in again? Trying to mend the rips? Eliminate the threat to “your” federation?
Bit by bit he tears the banner to shreds.
The Shadow: No, you will not. Because as amusing as it could be, you cannot fight yourself. No, you lost the plot, things have gone off script and suddenly you find yourself in the role that you had once despised so much. I am still trying to figure out what made you snap, but you don’t care. You don’t even realize things anymore. You are like a puppet on a string now, dancing to somebody else’s tune. Which bears eerie resemblance to Mia and Loki not long ago. She also had a puppeteer in Milenko that ended up pulling the strings and she had no choice but to follow.
The one man that once had so desperately cried for help, that felt misunderstood now is blaming me for being the one that misinterpreted the signs, the one that had thought that such different characters could co-exist.
He begins to pace through the snow, losing himself in thought.
The Shadow: Now I know that you for as long as I have known you have been unpredictable at best, being able to switch from black to white in a heartbeat, going from the top of the world to the depths of despair within the blink of an eye. So technically nobody should be surprised about this latest mood swing, but this is not just a twist in the myth that is Ataxia. No, this goes further than that. Where some people might dispute that there is such a thing as a true persona underneath this burlapian shroud of yours, this is out of character even for you.
Underneath all this kooky facade lay a framework of surprisingly firm ethical sternness. Yes, you could change your mind three times in a minute, but still, you would follow your own, set of rules. Rules of doing the right thing, as odd and unnerving as the journey to the final destination may be. Now that framework seems to have been laid waste to, or at the very least it was stuffed into some locked up department of your mind that somebody else locked and threw away the key.
He stops his pacing, his back to the camera, his head bowed. And when he turns around, he suddenly is wearing a replica of Ataxia’s mask.
The Shadow: You are a master of disguise. You are a master of mind games, of psychological warfare. You manage to weave strands of sanity and insanity alike together into, well, almost an artform. But the one thing that had never been there before is this distinct edge of malice. This willingness to not just put yourself and your own health and sanity on the line, but to try to drag others into the abyss with you.
You once were happy to wallow in your own misery, if you can call this happiness after all, trying to find the fault in yourself, but now for some inexplicable reason you have zeroed in on me. Why? Is it that I came to close to seeing your true essence? Is it because you almost let your guard down with me? I know that you let several guards down with Mia, but that is on a different level.
He tears off the mask and throws it aside.
The Shadow: Suddenly you are pushing away everybody and everything you once held dear. Mia, me, The Forsaken overall. Heck, you are even pushing away your own ideals. But for what? A sick sense of satisfaction that you are just able to do it? Is it to please or impress somebody with this sudden change in behaviour? You know best yourself that many people thought you were a few fries short of a Happy Meal on a good day, but now you have turned into the raw vegan version of a barbecue, a living, breathing oxymoron. And no, I will not make the joke that you cannot spell oxymoron without moron.
Your former chivalry has gone out the window--
At this point Myfanwy interjects, pushing back her hood, letting her red locks spill out, her emerald eyes blazing.
Myfanwy: When you touched me in Colorado Springs, you went too far. I had taken The Shadow’ word of who you were and what you were, but this is not what he told me. I guess I did not manage to knock any sense back into yourself when you hit that table, but mark my words, if you even come close to me again, may the Lord have mercy on your soul. The old adage goes that hell hath no fury like a woman scorned. You could not scorn me, Ataxia, but if you try anything again, hell shall be unleashed upon you and you will not know what hit you…
She takes a step back, but the intensity is not leaving her eyes as the camera re-focuses on The Shadow, who now also has his hood pushed back, fixing the camera in a cold, hard stare.
The Shadow: You think that you have me all figured out. I bet that you count on my not going these last few inches, that I would hesitate to deal the final blow. This last barrier before letting go that you have no problems jumping over. I am telling you, Ataxia, do not tempt me, for you do not know what I am capable of. This is not about the title anymore. This is not about The Forsaken anymore. This is between you--
He points at the camera.
The Shadow: --and I. Nothing else matters, nothing else counts. And at Vertigo, my friend, you will realize that no level of depravity will save you from being brought back to the cold and harsh reality you have tried to escape from, you have tried to build up this fantastical world, where you and you only are the be all, end all, the master of puppets.
The camera zooms in on The Shadow’s eyes.
The Shadow: Ataxia, spread your wings as much as you might, but in the end your fate will be the same as Icarus’... Prepare to meet the Antidote.
After lingering on The Shadow’s hard stare, the picture slowly fades to black.